Prince George's County allows 125 county school employees to drive county vehicles regularly to and from work and keep the vehicles at their homes over the weekend, the County Council learned yesterday.
The policy, School Supt. Edward J. Feeney told the Council, "saves time and keeps our workers on the job longer."
The response hardly satisfied Council member Frank P. Casula. "I don't see why we furnish people in the school system with free transportation," he said.
The employees pay for no gas or other maintenance charges, school officials said yesterday. They are allowed to keep the cars at home over the weekends, but cannot use them except "under an emergency situation," they said.
The school superintendent and other school officials received heated criticism from Council members who were trying to pare down the school system's proposed $245 million budget.
The criticism focused on more than 40 county employees who are driving their cars out of Prince George's County to their homes in Anne Arundel, St. Mary's, Charles, Calvert and Montgomery Counties as well as Washington.
Over an eight-month period, it cost the county at least $206,000 to operate and maintain the 125 trucks, equipment carriers, and sedans, county figures show.
Feeney said the workers who use the cars include electricians, garage foremen, painters, glaziers, oil burners, roofers, plumbers and carpenters. The vehicles enable him to drive directly from their homes to their jobs rather than having to drive to a central motor pool in Upper Marlboro to pick up the vehicles and then proceed to work.
Feeney said that there was not enough security at other locations to park the county cars and trucks overnight.
"We can cut some costs," responded Council member William B. Amonett. "I'm sure the problems of security would not outweigh the maintenance costs of the vehicles."
Several Council members said they planned to take up the issue up again with the school board before the Council makes its final decisions on the school budget May 13.